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A problem at the VA clinic

Yesterday I witnessed a near tragedy. A sixty year old man had fainted and collapsed onto the floor while giving blood samples at a VA clinic. Perhaps it was the stress of being needled that precipitated the attack and he fainted from the well known problem of heavily muscled guys having all their blood go to their muscles and then being forced to be inactive and relaxed when they have little blood flow to their brain.


What to do when you feel you are about to faint.

Seeing their patient being nervous from the needling the nurse will typically tell their patient to relax, that everything is going well. The guy relaxes as told and as the blood drains from his head, with decreased muscle tension, he faints. He would have been just fine if he started running or fighting because that would have maintained the blood flow his body was preparing him for, but being suddenly relaxed when all the blood is in the muscles, prepared for violent action, causes fainting. What I have posted before is that in this situation the nurse should say to the guy — Tighten your stomach muscles hard once a second for ten cycles. Tighten-relax, one. Tighten-relax, two. Tighten-relax, three. Tighten-relax, four. Tighten-relax, five. Tighten-relax, six. Tighten-relax, seven. Tighten-relax, eight. Tighten-relax, nine. Tighten-relax, ten. Are you feeling okay now? If that lack of blood flow created by the fight or flight reaction was his problem he will be feeling fine. If he had an embolism type heart attack he may be okay for only a few seconds but then revert to feeling the nausea and pain of a heart attack or perhaps symptoms of a stroke. In that situation a person at home should immediately chew up a single aspirin, call emergency 911 immediately and if the ambulance hasn’t arrived after ten minutes, chew up a second aspirin. Do not take another aspirin for at least an hour, or it will counteract the benefits. If the person was in a hospital they would have already called a code blue and begun more aggressive procedures.

The emergency team arrives with a gurney

This blood-lab clinic, where this event occurred, had a large poster at the door stating they did not do emergency visits. What they did in this situation was to instantly call 911. In five minutes the emergency crew arrived with a very fancy gurney and several personnel with about fifty pounds of other bagged emergency equipment. Things proceeded more or less to plan except for one thing: they couldn’t get the big gurney into the room where the guy was lying on the floor. It took some moving of furniture and finally they succeeded, but even then, in the confined space in the room, and it wasn’t a small room, the guy needed to stand up vertically before he could sit down on the gurney. Then they could lay him down and take him to the hospital. He stood up on his own power because it would have been very difficult for the medical team to have gotten him onto the gurney in the confined space of the small room. What they probably would have had to do, if the guy had been unconscious or too weak to stand, would have been to drag him out into the lobby where they could have lifted him more easily. It was all so complicated and I thought for a while on how to improve things.

I design a new emergency stretcher to slip under a victim.

What I am proposing here is a new type of stretcher which could be used for getting immobile injured people from confined, difficult and possibly twisted places, such as in a wrecked automobile, onto a typical ambulance gurney, or possibly carried all the way to the ambulance. This new emergency stretcher kit consists of several specialized pieces: 1st – 10 thin gently curved slippery slats 20 inches long and two inches wide with one inch holes at each end, 2nd – 1 eight foot long rod with many notches and holes along its length with strength sufficient to support 500 pounds at the center, 3rd – 10 10 foot long straps, perhaps with optional clips with slip adjusting clips at the ends, 4th – 2 strong tripods 4 foot high with attachments at the top for securing the rod.

This special stretcher is created by slipping the slats under the injured and possibly contorted person, erecting a temporary tripod at each end of the person, securing the rod between tops of the two tripods, and then tying or clipping a strap to each of the slat holes on one side of the person, (these could be pre-attached) running the straps over the slots in the rod supported by the two tripods, securing the straps to the same slat holes on the opposite side and then snugging the straps to where there is a little tension and no slack. At this time the injured person hasn’t been moved but can now be lifted by a pair of strong persons just beyond the tripods holding the rod which is holding the ropes. The object of this slat stretcher is to move the injured person from a difficult location to a new location, and possibly all the way to the emergency room, without changing their body position. This allows avoidance of flexing their body or any bone movement, which is critical to avoid, if they might have broken vertebra.

Why bother having a slat stretcher?

The advantage of this emergency stretcher is that it is cheap to manufacture, compact in storage, easily carried to the victim, set in place in a couple of minutes and capable of carrying injured people from confined spaces without flexing their bodies.

Ambulances should carry these slat stretchers for difficult situations.